It's not only long-time Linux true believers who say that Linux will eventually wipe out Windows. An former Microsoft employee of 11 years says that "proprietary software is eventually going to be doomed," and believes that Microsoft's future lies in releasing its own version of Linux.
Keith Curtis, former Microsoft Research employee and author of After the Software Wars, told an interviewer for Network World in a podcast that "I do believe that proprietary software is eventually going to be doomed."
His reasoning in the interview isn't exactly clear, and he doesn't go into details about how he believes open source software will kill off Windows. Essentially, he believes that there's an inevitability to the concept of free, which will ultimately overwhelm for-pay software. He says that right now many people "think free software is a house of cards," and that needs to change before open source will become dominant. He admits, though, "I don't know entirely how it will play out."
As for how Microsoft can survive if free software dominates, he believes the company should release its own version of Linux, saying:
"I think we could all be running Microsoft Linux...I sent an e-mail to Steve Ballmer about this and he said he wasn't interested...Microsoft could very easily dominate the Linux market if they wanted to."
He also claims that technology will progress more quickly using free software than proprietary software. He writes in his book:
"The key to faster technological progress is making software free. The difference between free, and non-free or proprietary software, is similar to the divide between science and alchemy. Before science, there was alchemy, where people guarded their ideas because they wanted to corner the market on the mechanisms used to convert lead into gold."
I agree with very little of what Curtis says. Just because something is free does not inevitably mean that it is superior to something that you pay for --- often it's the exact opposite. And I also don't agree that making things free is always the proper engine for technological growth. Frequently, the profit motive drives technology breakthroughs.
Still, the podcast is well worth a listen, whether you're a fan of Linux or Windows.
This story, "Linux Will Kill Windows, Says Former Microsoftie" was originally published by Computerworld.